Basic Income: Pros & Cons [POLICYbrief]
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Basic Income: Pros & Cons [POLICYbrief]


Well, the idea of a basic income is that the
government provides some sort of standard payment to pretty much everybody, every month,
and it’s enough to live on. What’s the broader social and cultural effect
of having this kind of program in place? What’s the effect of raising people in a society
where they know that, as they reach adulthood, they won’t actually need to start working
to make ends meet if they don’t want to? While a lot of the basic income debate focuses
on very technical questions of how you design it and who would get it, underneath it is
a much more fundamental debate about what the role of government is in society. There are a few different arguments for having
a basic income. One is that it’s just a better way to do the
safety net that we have now. It’s a very clunky system, doesn’t always
meet peoples’ needs. And so, one thought is that if we took all
of that money and all those programs and threw them away and just had a basic income instead,
it might be a better way to meet peoples’ needs, and certainly a more efficient way. The other big argument in favor of a basic
income is that you don’t have to phase it out the way our welfare programs phase out. One of the biggest problems with the way that
welfare tends to work is that as you start to earn your own money, your eligibility for
benefits declines. If you use a basic income that’s universal
instead, then you say, you’re gonna get this money if you don’t work, and you’re gonna
get this money if you do work. One of the huge challenges for a basic income
is its cost. If you imagine actually sending $1,000 a month
to everybody in the country, you get to a program that’s three or even four trillion
dollars in size. That’s just not what we spend on our safety
net today, which is maybe $1 trillion, but that’s everything our government spends today. And so, when you’re talking about still needing
the government to do what it does plus adding a basic income on top of it, you start to
get in to- to the idea of nearly doubling the size of the government or-or needing to
double all the taxes that we collect to pay for it. If you truly wanted to fund a basic income
out of spending we do today, you’d have to use not just our safety net, but all of Medicare
and all of Social Security as well. We already provide to each elderly citizen
more support in Medicare and Social Security than we would offer through a basic income. So, if we actually want to replace all of
those programs with a basic income, among other things, it would be mean dramatically
slashing the support we provide to the elderly, dramatically slashing the support we provide
to the disabled. The best argument in favor of a basic income
is that the United States truly has become wealthy enough as a country that we could,
in theory, send everybody enough money to meet their basic needs. And for people who see that as an attractive
vision, that people don’t need to worry about supporting themselves anymore, that’s something
to be celebrated and something to be pursued. If you had this support that you could count
on whether or not you worked, you might choose to spend more time on your education, you
might take a risk to start a business, you might stay home to raise your kids, and all
of those things you’d still be able to do because you were still earning the basic income. The best argument against a basic income is
that it represents a really fundamental redefinition of peoples’ obligations in society and the
role of government. What we define as the obligation of the individual,
what he or she is expected to do, what he fulfills when he performs work and contributes
productively to a community, those kinds of things are foundational to how we organize
our society, how we raise children, uh, and how we define success in life. A basic income shifts so much of that to the
idea that actually providing for basic needs is no longer the individual’s responsibility. It’s now the government’s responsibility.

6 Comments

  • Lochness Monsta

    Why doesnt the US government just plant money trees? Universal income wont work when a bank outside of the governments realm of influence controls your money. All these weak men and their ideas will only breed hard times if they are enacted.

  • Richard King

    Socialism has never worked never Mussolini killed thousands of his people it didn't work there it never has it never will it only works until you run out of other people's money

  • HardFlip Mike

    On what Base is "Basic Income" derived from. The people deciding the payout control the amount given. This is unstable, unsustainable and gives a false sense of security. This will only benefit the money laundering foreigners who cheat there income in the US and don't deserve it.

  • Chris Johnson

    I am Anti government and anti enslavement.. Government is the problem..I don't need overloads who think they have a higher claim over my life and property then I do..I claim my Divine Sovereignty and if Humanity is smart they will do the same.

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